LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 439
"Dunno; ken turn in here, I s'pose," said Sambo; " spects thar 's room for another thar; thar 's a pretty smart heap o' niggers to each on 'em, now; sure, I dunno what I's to do with more."
It was late in the evening when the weary occupants of the shanties came flocking home, — men and women, in soiled and tattered garments, surly and uncomfortable, and in no mood to look pleasantly on new-comers. The small village was alive with no inviting sounds; hoarse, guttural voices contending at the hand mills where their morsel of hard corn was yet to be ground into meal, to fit it for the cake that was to constitute their only supper. From the earliest dawn of the day, they had been in the fields, pressed to work under the driving lash of the overseers; for it was now in the very heat and hurry of the season, and no means was left untried to press every one up to the top of their capabilities. " True," says the negligent lounger; "picking cotton isn't hard work." Is n't it? And it is n't much inconvenience, either, to have one drop of water fall on your head; yet the worst torture of the inquisition is produced by drop after drop, drop after drop, falling moment after moment, with monotonous succession, on the same spot; and work, in itself not hard, becomes so, by being pressed, hour after hour, with unvarying, unrelenting sameness, with not even the consciousness of free-will to take from its tediousness. Tom looked in vain among the gang, as they poured along, for companionable faces. He saw only sullen, scowling, im-bruted men, and feeble, discouraged women, or women that were not women, — the strong pushing away the weak, — the gross, unrestricted animal selfishness of human beings, of whom nothing good was expected and desired ; and who, treated in every way like brutes, had sunk as nearly to their level as it was possible for human beings to do. To a late hour in the night the sound of the grinding was protracted; for the mills were few in number